Anti-government protests broke out in at least two Iranian cities on Thursday, according to reports and videos on social media.
The protests initially broke out in Behbahan, a city in the oil-rich province of Khuzestan in southwest Iran.
Protesters chanted against the regime and its foreign policy as well as against the Basij, the paramilitary arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), according to videos circulating on social media.
The protests follow a Twitter campaign Iranians had launched on Tuesday against the Iranian judiciary’s decision to uphold the death sentences of three protesters who were arrested and sentenced to death following the anti-government protests in November 2019.
Iranians in and out of Iran used a Persian-language hashtag that read “do not execute” which became a global trending topic with over four million tweets.
Watch: Protesters in #Iran’s southwestern city of #Behbahan chant “we don’t want a clerical regime.” Witnesses in Behbahan say there have been several arrests in the city, which is in the country's oil-rich Khuzestan province.#IranProtestshttps://t.co/f19il498t0 pic.twitter.com/OYGla0yd10— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) July 17, 2020
“Not Gaza, Not Lebanon, I give my life for Iran,” protesters are heard chanting in one video in reference to Tehran’s support for Palestinian group Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
This is a popular chant Iranians have used in protests over the years – notably during the 2009, 2017, and most recently November 2019 protests – to criticize Tehran’s foreign policies and funding of its network of proxies in the Middle East.
Another video from Behbahan showed security forces firing tear gas to disperse protesters.
Watch: Protesters in #Iran’s southwestern city of #Behbahan in oil-rich Khuzestan province chant "not Gaza, not Lebanon, I give my life for Iran," as demonstrations slowly spread to other cities.#IranProtestshttps://t.co/f19il498t0 pic.twitter.com/bC2402OiOV— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) July 16, 2020
“The Basij are honourless,” protesters are heard chanting in another video, as security forces look on.
At the same time, cybersecurity NGO Netblocks said Iranian authorities have imposed restrictions on the internet in the province of Khuzestan where Behbahan is located from 10 p.m. local time.
“Real-time network data show total and partial disruptions varying by provider amid anti-government protests,” NetBlocks said.
During the November 2019 protests, Iran almost completely shut off access to the internet across the country for days.
Protests also broke out in the city of Shiraz on Thursday, according to reports on social media.
Earlier on Thursday, Iranians on social media shared videos on social media showing a heavy presence of security forces in several cities including the capital Tehran.
Iranian activists on social media have called for more protests on Friday.